By Judie Kaberia
NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 1 – A blaze at Kimathi House in the centre of Nairobi destroyed at least two floors on Sunday night, as firefighters arrived ill-equipped to fight the blaze.The fire started shortly before 8pm and by 8.30pm, there was little effort made to contain it since fire engines that rushed to the scene, were not properly equipped to reach the 6th and 7th floors which were damaged in the inferno.“When the Nairobi fire fighters came, their hoses could not reach high up the building,” said Kenya Red Cross Nairobi Branch Chairman Kweya Obedi.Obedi who owns a business on the 1st floor of the building said half an hour after the blaze started, electricity supply had not been cut off, frustrating firefighters’ efforts.
“The Kenya Power came too late to put off the electricity. That is another cause why the fire spread so fast and the damage was bigger,” he said.“So far 5th, 6th, and 7th floors have been affected but that will be confirmed after the assessment is done,” he added.Rogers Egesa whose office is on the 6th floor was also at the scene moments after the fire broke out.“I can see 6th floor is really burning. We do investment advisory. I got a phone call from someone who was passing here. First I thought it was a joke, and then I got a second call… that’s when I rushed here at around 7.40pm,” he recounted to Capital FM News.The owner of the building who identified himself only as Mutuma was among people who rushed to the scene but refused to talk to journalists.It took concerted efforts of G4S, KK Security Guards and the National Youth Service to put out the fire that was finally contained shortly before 10pm.
Members of the public at the scene took issue with the City Council of Nairobi due to the slow response by their firefighters.“This city council is just useless. They came here late, there were not effective, their water was not reaching even the 3rd floor, if it were not for the private firms, this building would have completely burnt down,” eye witnesses charged.Nairobi central divisional police chief Eric Mugambi said there were no casualties.“The cause of fire has not been established and so far there are no casualties", he said.